Is Vitamin D Poisonous To Dogs?

Aimee Labbate
  • Aimee Labbate

  • RCVS: 700039

 

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs as it helps to balance calcium levels in the body, which is important for the bones, muscles, nerves and all cells in the body. They get most of their vitamin D from their diet as they are unable to make it in the skin, unlike humans and some other animals. However, ingestion of too much vitamin D is extremely toxic and can rapidly lead to kidney failure.

Why is vitamin D toxic to dogs?

If a dog ingests too much vitamin D this causes the blood calcium to increase to a dangerous level. High calcium levels are very damaging for various organs around the body. It can cause sudden (acute) kidney failure, as well as problems with the heart, gastrointestinal tract and other tissues around the body.

Ingestion of toxic doses of vitamin D often occurs in the following ways:

  1. Ingesting cholecalciferol rat poison
  • Some types of rat poisons use vitamin D and are highly toxic to dogs. They are usually palatable so dogs will like to eat them if they have the chance.
  1. Ingesting vitamin D supplements or psoriasis cream
  • Some dogs like to raid their owner’s medicinal supplies and eat things they shouldn’t. Both vitamin D supplements and psoriasis cream are examples of human products that contain high levels of vitamin D and so are highly toxic to dogs.

What are the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity in dogs?

Typical symptoms may occur 8-24 hours ingestion of a toxic dose, although they can be delayed by 72 hours. They normally include:

  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark tarry stools
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Twitching and muscle tremors
  • Seizures

How is vitamin D poisoning in dogs diagnosed?

The vet will run blood tests and will normally reveal a high blood calcium level with vitamin D toxicity. This will prompt lots of questions regarding potential exposure to products containing high levels of vitamin, such as rat poison, vitamin D supplements and psoriasis cream. The vet will also ask about the diet and what the dog eats on a daily basis. Further tests can be carried out depending on the individual case to help confirm the diagnosis.

If you are worried that your dog may have eaten anything containing vitamin D then please contact your vet ASAP.  Remember to have the product packaging to hand if possible.

How is vitamin D poisoning in dogs treated?

Treatment will depend on how quickly the dog is presented to the vets after ingestion of the vitamin D. If the dog is seen promptly then the vet can give an injection to induce vomiting, removing as much as possible from the stomach. Activated charcoal can then be given to reduce absorption of any remaining in the stomach.

Treatment is then aimed at flushing the system through with large volumes of intravenous fluids (a drip) to help support the kidneys, as well as medication to help reduce the calcium level and other supportive care. This may need to be continued for several days, or even longer, and blood tests will need to be repeated and monitored closely. Some dogs may have long term damage to the kidneys or other organs and may therefore need life-long management.

Will my pet recover from vitamin D poisoning?

With prompt and appropriate treatment, most animals will recover, although vitamin D toxicity can be fatal if significant quantities are eaten, particularly if treatment is delayed.

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Vitamin D toxicity in dogs

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs as it helps to balance calcium levels in the body. However, ingestion of too much vitamin D is extremely toxic and can rapidly lead to kidney failure and other organ damage.

Dogs are normally exposed from ingestion of certain types of rat poison, vitamin D supplements or psoriasis cream. Typical symptoms include lethargy, weakness, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased thirst and urination, muscle tremors and seizures. Treatment normally involves inducing vomiting if ingestion was recent, followed by aggressive intravenous fluid therapy and various medication to help support the kidneys and reduce blood calcium levels.  Dogs will need very close monitoring including repeated blood tests.

With prompt and appropriate treatment, most animals will recover, although vitamin D toxicity can be fatal if significant quantities are eaten, particularly if treatment is delayed. Some dogs may also have long term damage to the kidneys or other organs and may therefore need life-long management.

If you are worried that your dog may have eaten anything containing vitamin D then please contact your vet ASAP.  Remember to have the product packaging to hand if possible.


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